Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Feast of St. Stephen

Today is the feast of St. Stephen, the protomartyr of the Church. I have always wondered why the juxtaposition Christmas, the most glorious and well, innocent, of Feasts, with the occasion of the martyrdom of Stephen, a gritty and bloody wake-up call.

Maybe that is the idea. I am sure that it isn't just some gruesome coincidence; but rather a well thought out reminder. Also featured in this week is the feast of the Holy Innocents, which is something in the same vein, I think.

This tiny and innocent child came, not to bring the peace the world gives, but the edge of the sword, the vicious and personal blow of the stoning. The peace on earth the angels proclaim isn't here, in the world's terms. Her in the world we will face stones and swords, persecutions of all kinds.

Yet Stephen experienced the peace of Christ, and experienced it in the midst of his cruel and bloody murder--he looked up and saw the heavens opened, and Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father. His last words were of forgiveness, and he hastened forth from the world full of love and joy.

Let the peace of the Lord be with us all, and as we follow in the footsteps of this first, great witness, returning love for hate, and good for evil, may that hasten the day when peace will reign here, as well.

God is here with us, who can be against us?

Help us, Oh Lord, to seek and to find your peace, the true peace, even here now in the midst of our anxieties, conflicts and persecutions. Let us see just a little bit of what Stephen saw, that we may be strengthened and encouraged in the midst of our troubles, whatever they may be.

No comments: